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QUETTA: The Emergency Mana­gement Department of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) has launched community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) and school safety projects in Nasirabad and Jaffarabad in coordination with the Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).

The awareness programme had been launched in view of natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods and landslides which played havoc with human lives, livestock, infrastructure and abodes in the last decade.

PDMA Director General Muhammad Tariq, in his opening remarks at the launching, said: “The government of Balochistan is working together with its partners to minimise risks to human lives during disasters. There is a dire need to spread the CBDRM and school safety programmes across the province.” He also emphasised the need for widening the project area and working on hazard-free infrastructures.

Provincial Education Minister Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal said the government was working on improving the lives of people by providing them basic necessities, including food, education and shelter, besides creating awareness among communities about natural disasters with the assistance of United Nations agencies, international and local non-government organisations and research institutions.

Funded by the UN World Food Programme, the CBDRM and school safety projects would benefit around 3,150 community members by increasing their ability to identify hazard, vulnerability and risk.

The programme would help minimise loss of life and property by covering more than 6,500 people, including schoolchildren, teachers, school safety committees, local community members, trainers, local and district government officials from 40 schools in 14 revenue villages with 40 sub-villages in both Nasirabad and Jaffarabad.

A similar project was launched in Sindh last year.

WFP Head of Policy and Programme for Pakistan William Affif said: “Pakistan has suffered from consecutive natural disasters and emergencies in the recent past causing unfortunate loss to human as well as to animal lives. These loses can be minimised by educating the people on disaster risk management and disaster response strategies.”

The WFP, National Disaster Management Authority and PDMAs had signed a Framework of Cooperation for 2016-18.

The AKAH department had been selected as the implementing partner of the WFP for launching a series of orientation sessions for projects across the country.

The department also developed a school safety strategy for Gilgit-Baltistan and would annually commemorate May 16 as School Safety Day across GB and Chitral.

“It is very important to build resilient communities as millions of people have been impacted by natural disasters, AKAH Chief Executive Officer Nawab Ali Khan said.

“Disaster risk management is a shared responsibility of the government, private sector, civil society and the communities which would create an environment for all to synergise their efforts for a safer human habitat.”

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017